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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monet's Giverny Garden

 ♫Sur le fil♫

I've been immersing myself in Monet's garden in Giverny this month. . . .
Irises in Monet's Garden

It is my hope that his garden will inspire me to paint just as his did.  He would spend hours working in his garden or sitting quietly taking it all in. . . .
Claude Monet observes his Giverny, France, garden from its Japanese footbridge 
in this 1922 colorized photograph.
(Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden)

This is one of the many ways he painted his waterlily garden. . . .
The Japanese Footbridge 1899

I began my immersion by first reading children's books such as "Linnea in Monet's Garden". . . .

. . . .and "Charlotte in Giverny". . . .

. . . . and "Sunshine and Waterlilies". . . .

I find that children's books disseminate what sometimes can be dry information in very interesting and fun ways.  They hone in on what's most important, like this quote by Monet from "Sunshine and Waterlilies". . . .

"When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever.  Just think, here's a little square of blue, here's an oblong of pink, here's a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape . . ."

This is exactly the kind of encouragement I need to put my brush to the palette. . . . and then onto the canvas.  I have long wanted to be able to draw and paint what I see.  Unfortunately, what I see is realistic, and what my eyes see can't seem to get from my brain to the canvas all together exactly as my eyes see it.  Betty Edward's "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" blames the problem on the left-side of my brain being dominate.  The following chart explains the difference between the Left-Mode and Right-Mode of the brain. . . .

Edward's book gives exercises to help you access the right side of your brain.  The one that amazed me the most was this one.   I was to draw it from this upside-down position. . . .

I, who claims not to be able to draw anything, drew the following just as I saw it (upside down).  I was unable to draw it right-side up.   I've turned it right side up for comparison with Picasso's drawing. . . . .

This proved to me that I have the ability to draw. . . . if I can just get out of the left side of my brain!  Monet was obviously capable of doing this.  When he started painting, his paintings were as realistic as the accepted artists of his day. . . .
Still Life with Melons
Early on he was influenced by landscape painter Eugene Boudin.  Boudin's paintings showed the changing skies and seas.  He captured these changes with quick brush strokes, focusing on only what was essential.  Monet's paintings were also influenced by Édouard Manet's work as evidenced in the below painting of his model Camille (eventually his wife).  His "impressionist" paintings were not being accepted by the Académie française in Paris, known as the Salon, or by the public, so he painted this more conventional one because the only way to become well-known was to have your paintings in the Salon.  It was accepted. . . .
Camille (The Woman in the Green Dress) 1866
After Camille conceived a child by Monet he was faced with losing his father's financial support if he married her.  Eventually, with help from a benefactor he was able to support Camille and their child and they married in 1870.  To save on expenses they moved to the country.  First to Argenteuil where he had his first a garden. . . .
The Artist's House at Argenteuil 1873
. . . .then to Vétheuil in 1878 to paint for and live with his patron, Ernest Hoschedé and his wife Alice and their six children. . . .
The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil 1880
Hoschedé went bankrupt later that year and left the country, leaving Alice and the children behind.  Then Camille died in 1879.  Alice began caring for Monet's two young sons along with her own six.  In 1883 while looking out the window on the train to Paris, Monet saw this pink house in Giverny. . . .

He rented it and moved Alice and the eight children to Giverny.  Alice's husband died in 1891.  She and Monet were married the next year.  

In 1890 he had been able to purchase the house and began adding to the garden, building a pond across the road in 1893 so that he could paint the ever-changing water reflecting the sky.  In "Monet:  Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musée Marmottan" Monet is quoted. . . .

"I have no other wish than to mingle more closely with nature, and I aspire to no other destiny than to work and live in harmony with her laws as Goethe prescribed.  Nature is greatness, power and immortality; compared with her, a creature is nothing but a miserable atom."

Karin Sagner-Duchting in "Monet at Giverny" quotes Monet. . . .

"I waited until the idea had taken shape, until the arrangement and composition of the motifs had gradually inscribed itself on my brain . . ." 

She says, "For Monet, therefore, painting became a means of projecting subjective sensations and nature became a metaphor."  

Monet is demonstrating right-brain thinking by his statement.  So, I thought I should try it--Impressionism.  I printed out a photo of my garden. . . .

After two attempts, the second one done upside down, this is my watercolor "impression" of my rose arbor. . . .
PLEASE, do not comment on my painting one way or another!  I know that you wouldn't give me a negative review, but if you say nothing it will mean you don't like it ☹. . . . and if you say something nice I won't believe you anyway!  ☺ This way no body has to lie since you are all instructed to say nothing about it!.  Thank you in advance for following my instructions.  If you want me to keep painting, you won't say anything.  I can say this about my painting, though. . . .I'm in good company because Monet threw a lot of his paintings into his pond!

Another wonderful book is "Monet's Passion" by Elizabeth Murray. . . .

Monet was also known for his love of food.  He collected recipes and saw that his cook prepared the meals to his specifications.  "Monet's Table" by Claire Joyes is a wonderful book full of biographical information, photos of the house, garden, and family along with the recipes. . . .

His favorite cake that he always requested for his birthday was Vert-vert (Green Cake).  The green coloring comes from 3 cups of spinach!  Ken plans to make it one of these days.  When he does I'll post the recipe and the results!

Here is a short clip of "Linnea in Monet's Garden". . . .

Tour of Monet's Garden with Jane Davenport. . . .

Other videos of Monet's Garden:
Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny by James Priest
Elizabeth Murray "Monet's Passion" Photography & Garden Lecture
Claude Monet - Giverny - Mini-documentary by Ann Perin
Still Photos by Lynn Marentette
Monet's Garden, June 2009 by Hoyem
Paint Me Monet (an artist's rendition of Monet's flowers)

How to paint like Monet: A Beginner's Guide

TV Mini-Series "The Impressionists":  Part 1   Part 2   Part 3 (You'll also learn about Monet's friends:   Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Bazille)

Oscar Claude Monet:  The Complete Works

More about Monet:  Welcome to Claude Monet's

The Villages:  Giverny and Vernon


  1. Oh, because I don't take instruction very well I have to say I am deeply disappointed that I'm forbidden to share my joy. Oh, well ~~~ moving swiftly on ~~ I adore Monet. I was introduced to his work in a very big way ~ at the Royal Academy's 1990 exhibition of his work where many of his series paintings were gathered from the countless worldwide collections and displayed along with others from each series ~~~sighs~~~ Did you know that he had cataracts and they think this caused him to develop such a unique style because the cataracts distorted colours? Also, I recently discovered that, at Giverney, he grew the flower beds specifically with the purpose of seeing how colours worked together. Fascinating man, and I'm so pleased you have taken him as your starting point! Waving from Across The Pond ~ Debs :)

    1. Well, I certainly appreciate your disappointment ☺....I mean, I'm sorry to disappoint you. Yes, I just learned all that about Monet and more. There's so much more I could have shared about him and am hoping people will look at the links I provided and read some of the books I spoke about. In fact, I just now remembered one I meant to mention!!! It's called "Monet's Passion". I'm going to add it now.

  2. Oh, Cathy! Thanks for your posting today on all things Monet! I still have my daughter's two books I got for her when she was a child : "Linnea's Almanac" and then "Linnea in Monet's Garden". I loved the illustrations and have kept them all these years even now after my daughter is grown and moved out of the house...My daughter also loved the movie "Amelie" your music selection of the day- I will share your post with her :D
    In the Spring of 2009, I was on a quick trip to Paris--we did see the Louvre but unfortunately did not get to see Monet's works in Musée de l'Orangerie. Will need to go back to Paris to see Monet's beautiful art!
    Your rose arbor in the garden is beautiful (not commenting on the artwork but the actual plant!) :D
    Can't wait to read up on the links you've've made my day even happier with your post!
    Thank you....

    1. I have both Linnea books, too, plus an animated video that was made of the book about Monet's Garden, as well as a little Linnea doll. I'm glad I have that photo of my rose because it died over this past winter. I pulled it out a couple weeks ago and have planted a climbing hydrangea there--like the one in Tasha Tudor's garden on her greenhouse.

  3. Cathy, thanks for yet another informative post with lots of links to investigate. Reading about left brain/right brain makes my head hurt, but the idea of drawing/painting images upside-down is intriguing. I took one university class in drawing in hopes of being taught actual techniques; however, we simply were told what to draw and left to our own devices. I struggled mightily with each and every assignment, but by the end of the semester, I was totally amazed at what I had brought forth. In the 15 years since, I've not attempted another drawing ... never mind trying to paint, although I have art supplies at hand should I ever get a wild hair to have a go at it. Thanks for this 'possible inspiration!'

    Sharon in Alabama

    1. I hope you will give it a go! I took a drawing class a few years ago. We had to draw a still life in the class. I just could not get the correct perspective down! I gave up after a couple classes. I felt like I was in a swim class where they throw you in the water as a way to teach you to swim. Since my life didn't depend on it, I did the easiest thing--just didn't go back.

  4. I too am disappointed in not being able to comment. But there is so much in this post. I feel like I've been to an art appreciation class, I am coming back to absorb more. I was ready to find my photo of his Argenteuil house from my visit to the Chicago Art Museum last year, but then you showed it. I always have wondered if I could ever slow myself down enough to really try, if I could paint. My father did some nice oils. I'm thinking I should try something upside down. I hope you share more!

    1. If your father could paint, then it must be in your blood! By all means, I hope you will give it a try. Believe me, if I do draw/paint something that pleases me you'll be the first to see it! I'll be bursting to share. Now that I know more about the lives of the Impressionists I will view their paintings in a whole new light. I can't wait till we can get down to DC to the art museums.

  5. Claude Monet's works have always been favorites of mine. When we visited the Louvre in Paris I was in love with his work featured there. Impressionism is a lovely art form that he certainly began and is responsible for its popularity. I'm looking forward to seeing many more of your works, Cathy! ♥

    1. I never fully appreciated Impressionism until I did all this research this month. Knowing more about the people and the motivation behind the movement itself has really made the difference. I think this is true for anything we don't at first understand.

  6. Hi, Cathy. After about 5 years of teaching, I noticed the same thing in a lot of children's books. The best ones were always able to "boil down" complex or difficult subjects into simple concepts children can begin to understand. I really enjoyed your tutorial today on Monet, hands-down my favorite impressionist. You are SO a teacher, you know. With all the information and follow-up material you include in a post. At the rate you're going, Olivia will be reading at a fifth-grade level when she enters kindergarten, and who knows what else!! My schedule was too crammed with other stuff in college, so I was never able to take any art courses or even an art history "primer" type of course, but I'll be checking the online resources you've included here. PS - my comment on the blueberry muffin post has jettisoned off somewhere in the "ether" so I hope you get this one. Have a great week, my friend... :>)

    1. Hi Janet. I checked all the possible places your comment could have ended up and could not find it. ☹ Losing comments is like having your ice cream scoop topple off the cone onto the street and having a stray dog dash by and eat it! Yes, Olivia and I will have so many new things to learn together! She is already eager to learn. Her Daddy was talking in full sentences before he was 2 and could carry on a conversation with an adult.

  7. Always hoped to go to Monet's place but never made it.

    1. But Barbara! You're not that far from it! There's still time to go. One review I read highly recommended spending the night nearby so you can be there as soon as it opens--before the tour buses bring the hoards of people.


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